Essay Type Questions (Very Weird Situation)


I failed CFA III last year,but something is very weird. Although I really understood the knowledge and studied hard, I scored very good in the afternoon section but scored very bad in the morning essay section.

In the morning section, I scored almost all sections <50 % (The worse score)

In the afternoon section I scored almost all sections > 70 %

As a result, I got band 4.

If I had been lazy or incapable, I could not have scored good scores in the MC section. However, I really don’t know what happened in the morning section. Although I may not score well, it should not be <50% in almost all sections.

Does anyone have this experience like this before? How did you fix it?

Thank you very very much


been there, done that.

  1. did you write the answer in the location specified for the answer.

  2. did you answer the question they asked you an answer for, or were you writing what you knew about the topic?

  3. look at the answers to the questions (guidelines) and try to recall what you wrote for the question. very often I found I was not answering the question to the level of detail required. Recall would be difficult 7 months later, but maybe write out the answers in detail the way you would now, compare against the guideline. and try to incorporate portions of the guideline into your answer.

  4. another point I did find useful - try and get at least the 51-70 in the IPS related questions. Stands you in good stead, even if you foul up elsewhere.

and pray - do not fall into the trap of “reading an answer” and saying you understood what was required. Do write out the answer in painstaking detail. it prepares you in two ways -

a. helps you write answers out (putting things on paper)

b. helps you strengthen your hand, and prepares you for the pain of writing out for 3 hours.


Thank you very much. I was wondering if handwriting is one of the problems because I have poor handwriting. I guess the marker may hate to read it and just ignore it. Would it be possible?

^ There are many folks who have been in this forum who claimed that they had bad handwriting and passed the exams.

Just concentrate on what CP told you mate, that should give you good chance. And CP himself has been through this… Good luck!

And +100 on what CP told about reading the answer and thinking I know this…

Note - do you have a study partner? I failed band 10 in 2013. Had a study partner in 2014. We shared topics and each of us had to talk about the topic without any reference. This helped us in getting the important reference terms/key words imbibed. We sometimes would even swap same topics and talk about it - just to make sure we are getting all the key words. And we did this weekly twice or thrice for 10-15 minutes each.

CFA Institute employs retired pharmacists to grade the Level III morning session papers, so poor handwriting isn’t an issue.

Employs retired pharmacists!?

I see. Thank you all very much.

I do not have a study partner but I will try to find one. Also, I find that the answer to the questions in the guideline is very simple (Of course I mean the morning section) and some people state that point form with the “Verb” at the beginning is ok. May I make sure whether it is correct?

Should I use a point form or should I write in very details about the answers? because I really think that the answers in the guideline are too simple.


Bullet points.

answers in the guideline are too simple — is it that way to read? Or are you able to write it out?

Do you have an overconfidence bias after you read the answer?

If not, think a few steps ahead. RIght now you are under no pressure, you are reading the answer with a cup of hot coffee in your hands, understand it completely.

Is your understanding, state of mind going to be the same under time pressure, esp when you have no books, and have to rely on your memory to come up with the answer. If you are able to tick off all those check boxes, go ahead and continue doing what you have done over the next few months - and I see no reason why you would not pass.

cheung0806 there you are, the only reason you failed Morning session.

I like the idea of a study partner to hammer AM key phrases. If anyone is interested to regularly swap key phrases online, please PM me. My handwriting is pretty bad and I have to use bullet points & be straight to the point.